Indiana University and Green Science Policy: Newly-Discovered Pollutant Haunting Homes
BLOOMINGTON, Ind: Ghosts and phantoms may not be the only invisible threats lurking in our neighborhoods this Halloween. Researchers at Indiana University have discovered a previously unidentified, potentially toxic chemical in air, water, and homes around the Great Lakes region.
The chemical is an organophosphate, a family of spooky substances that are frequently toxic and can disrupt sex hormones and the nervous system. Despite the health risk, and the fact that the researchers found the chemical in all 20 homes that they sampled, it was previously unidentified by public health researchers.
"My concern is human exposure to this pollutant," said Dr. Marta Venier, lead author of the paper and Associate Scientist at Indiana University Bloomington. "That it is commonly found in house dust, air, sediment and water means we are all being exposed, with young children likely having the highest exposures." Dr. Venier explained that though these samples were collected across the Great Lakes region, similar levels of the pollutant probably exist across the entire US.
Little is known about where this chemical is used and how it gets into the environment. "There is no requirement that manufacturers disclose the chemicals used in most consumer products," explains Dr. Joe Charbonnet of the Green Science Policy Institute. "The health effects and even existence of scores of these chemicals may be unknown to environmental scientists."
The article's authors believe that this chemical, tri(2,4-di-t-butylphenyl) phosphate (TDTBPP), may be used as a flame retardant or a plasticizer. No toxicity studies have been conducted on the newly discovered chemical, but similar chemicals have been shown to be toxic.